“I get my hair cut every two days. After all, your hair is your head suit.” – Jack Donaghy
My parents had this great rule when I was growing up that we were allowed to do whatever we wanted to alter our appearances as long as it wasn’t permanent. True, this left a bit of a grey area around piercings that they hadn’t foreseen, an area whose boundaries were promptly tested by my brother. But me, I just messed with my hair because there were plenty of options. I got a perm, tried to do those tall stiff bangs everyone misguidedly had for a few years in the ’80s, dyed my hair green and blue and purple (once with Kool-Aid but mostly with Manic Panic, which still makes me feel all nostalgic every time I see its little tubs in Newbury Comics), chopped it into a Louise Brooks bob, and sometimes, briefly, left it alone to breathe. If my hair were a head suit, it would have been made out of hypercolor fabric.
I’ve read all sorts of articles about how important hair is (supposed to be) to women: how it needs to be dyed if it goes grey before you’re on your deathbed, how it should be long and straight (or curly, or wavy, or some improbable combination of the three) because that’s what guys like, how bangs are in or out or in but only if they’re sideswept, and so on. And I’m sure each of these things represents the truth for some woman somewhere. But for me, all my hair has ever been is a temporary accessory, something that’s easy to change if I feel like trying on a slightly different version of myself – other than that one time I thought I had alopecia. That time scared the shit out of me because I’m sure my skull is a weird shape that wouldn’t look good totally bald. Plus, autoimmune diseases are not so fun. Luckily I was just having an uncommon side effect to a medication, so I guess the moral of that story is to always scare yourself by reading the entire list of possible side effects when you’re on a drug, so that you know when you can blame it for making your hair fall out in clumps.
Anyway, back to head suits, let me bring out my former English major skills and do a bit of explication here. If you are rich and have lots of time on your hands, why not get your hair cut every two days so it always looks fresh? This is how to succeed in business and probably in every other area of life because Jack Donaghy is never wrong. What Jack is really saying is that he is always paying attention to his prospects and his career by taking care of his hair. And it pays off with a perfectly coiffed head suit that everyone notices, admires, and follows. Your attire must be impeccable, your hair more so; they must work together in tandem to create the perfect impression. This is the job of the head suit, to give you power. And hair does have some sort of strange, transformative power, even though I think the whole “blondes have more fun” thing is false. You have more fun when you decide you’re going to have more fun, right? I guess it might be a little more difficult to picture yourself partying hard or running a corporation if your hair looks like Mama’s from “Mama’s Family,” but I’m sure with a little effort and some alcohol – and a lot less floral fabric – you could rock it.
The longer I altered my hair, the more I realized that the reactions I got were just other people’s baggage or weirdness thrown up onto my head. I’ve been told that my hair made me resemble John Paul Jones, one of the Olsen twins, and “a lesbian” – that guy was so convinced he was insulting me that he didn’t bother to pick a specific lesbian, so I chose to picture the gorgeous and talented Portia de Rossi and see it as a compliment (just to be clear, I look nothing like her at all). If ever I cared what others’ reactions were – barring the desire to have everyone think my new style/color is as awesome as I think it is – that time has passed. And that’s good because my head suit and I are very busy. We’re planning our climb up the career ladder. It’s gonna be bigger than those ’80s bangs that I couldn’t force to stay up.
Anyone else have a hair story to share?